The obvious first reply to this is, “What does a Jew look like?” Certainly, in the time that interfaith marriage has been a force in the Jewish world, the answer to this question has undergone some change. But is it really any different than any other mixing of heritages?
When we visited Ellis Island and walked through the exhibits, it struck me that the photos of the people from each individual country shared many similarities. You could say, with some degree of accuracy, “That person looks Italian.” Fast forward to today. I’m Italian. I’m also French-Canadian. I’m also Jewish, albeit by choice. So no. I don’t look Jewish. Then again, not all Jews are from Eastern Europe these days. Continue reading
I’ve been part of the interfaith community for many years. I’ve felt comfortable, uncomfortable, welcome, tolerated, and most points between on the spectrum. I can tell you which things left me feeling more or less comfortable. I can even give you a definition-in-progress of what I would consider a welcoming congregation. What I hadn’t thought of before last night, is how many aspects of welcome are universal.
Why are we making it so complicated when we sit together as Jews to assess how welcoming our congregations are? Why are we trying to look at ourselves through the eyes of others – especially others who are coming to us from a world view we have not experienced firsthand? Why are we making this such a Herculean task? Continue reading
There’s one line in Psalm 98 that has stuck in my head since I was a child. As I recall, the line is, Make a joyful noise unto the L-rd.
Throughout my childhood, I often thought of what joyful noise I would make. Would it be the sound of me singing? Or me playing the flute or piano? Maybe even me playing the cello? Then again, maybe it would be me teaching or writing. I just wasn’t sure. Continue reading